Cats v. Dogs: Which Pet Is Greener?

Tallying your best friend’s carbon pawprint.

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back-of-the-napkin calculations based on a University of California-Berkeley study suggest that on average, feeding Fido creates 596 lbs of CO2 emissions a year, versus about 517 lbs for Fluffy’s kibble. Size matters: According to a 2006 National Academies study, a Saint Bernard needs 12 times as much food as a cat, meaning greater energy use and more emissions; Chihuahuas are daintier eaters, and thus greener pets. A weekly 10-mile ride to the off-leash park produces about 400 lbs of carbon per year—the equivalent of feeding a whole extra cat. But (sorry, catbloggers) felines have flaws, too. They kill songbirds, and litter pellets, often made with strip-mined clay, add some 3.4 million tons of solid waste a year to US landfills. The biggest problem? Pet owners: We spend $1.8 billion each year on dog toys, often imported and/or made of plastic. Cats have to make do with $1 billion worth of catnip and rubber mice.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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